Category: News, Tips & Guides

Thanksgiving Dinner

Prepping the Week Before Will Make Turkey Day a Breeze

Welcome back to Part 3 of Nino’s Thanksgiving Turkey Timeline! We’re only 1 week away from the BIG day and have lots to share with you this week. Much of which can REALLY save you some of that precious time you’ll really appreciate having once Thanksgiving Day arrives.

We began 2 weeks ago talking about your expected guest list, menu, your basic cookware and tableware needs and finally talked about ordering that fresh Amish turkey.

Today, let’s talk about things you can buy NOW and things you can even begin to prepare if you have space in your fridge and freezer.

If your menu includes homemade Cranberry Sauce, Marmalades, Chutneys, Salad Dressings or Marinades, go ahead and make them this week. They will last WELL past Thanksgiving and you’ll not have to spend time on them next week.

We can also start some Thanksgiving shopping this week since it’s likely you’ll be doing your weekly grocery shopping anyway. Doing some of this shopping now will make that pre-Thanksgiving trip to the store quicker and more focused on JUST the perishables.

Including your turkey if it’s a fresh one.

Buying all your beverages (coffee, ultra-pasteurized coffee cream, beer, wine, liquor, mixers, and all soft drinks) is certainly at the top of the list. Most all that can hang out well in the garage or any other storage space you have. Also, snacks, chips, nuts, and dips can all be purchased this early and stored in some out-of-the-way place.

Fuel for the grill, fat for the deep fryer (if you prepare your bird that way), logs for the fireplace (if you have one of course) and disposables wares are other non-perishable items to consider buying now.

As far as “perishable” food items, there are indeed some groceries you can buy right now and actually prepare and freeze for thawing and re-heating or cooking on Thanksgiving Day.

I mentioned in last week’s Part 2 Thanksgiving Timeline Blog that you could consider roasting a small turkey and use those bones and a bit of the meat to pre-make your gravy while saving some of the meat to chop and add to your stuffing mix.

In addition, this week you can actually make your entire batch of mashed potatoes, mashed sweet potatoes and your stuffing which can then be stored in freezer bags or containers for thawing and reheating on Thanksgiving. It’s a trick that in not only use for those large holiday meals but all year long. Simply thaw, reheat (I generally use the microwave oven but you can also cover well and use a conventional oven set at 300 F) and then RE-WHIP for a few moments once reheated thoroughly. You would NEVER know that they had been previously made and then frozen. The same goes for your stuffing (except of course that you don’t have to whip it afterwards).

Thanksgiving stuffing and mashed potatoes

Preparing your stuffing, mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce the week before will make your Thanksgiving dinner much easier.

If you’ve never made your pumpkin pie from a fresh pie pumpkin, (I have a video (link here) to show you how) you can get ready to do so by buying that pie pumpkin now, cook and mash it, then reserve it in your fridge for next week when you then make your pie.

Lastly, if you think you might need some extra ice but don’t need so much extra that you need to buy a bag, think about “banking” (saving) your daily cubed ice from your freezer in zippered freezer bags.

To recap, this week your goal is to consider buying all but the essential perishables and begin some pre-preparation of some of those side dish items.

My Thanksgiving Turkey Timeline (Part 4 of 5) will come to you next Monday, November 22nd. It will be FULL of information including that last shopping trip, getting your turkey ready for the oven, to stuff or not to stuff, what “brining” brings to the table, roasting tips and more.

Chef Pete Loren is now in semi-retirement, after a storied 40 plus year career. He now serves as the Chef Emeritus at Nino Salvaggio International Marketplace. Explore more recipes HERE.

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